The suspect has been connected to seven different incidents and police are seeking the public's help to locate him

Laptops taken, wallets gone, a beloved wedding ring lost forever, just as local businesses are getting back on their feet they have fallen prey to a string of burglaries connected to one suspected perpetrator.

Police officials said the suspect is a black male in his 20s with a thin build, short dreadlocks and a thin mustache. He has targeted businesses along Montana Ave, Wilshire Boulevard and Lincoln Boulevard. 

The crimes are those of opportunity. According to SMPD, the suspect often enters through back entrances during business hours and heads to employees-only areas where personal possessions are left unguarded. 

The suspect has been connected to burglaries at Dagwoods Pizza, Cha Spa, Coco Lux Nails, Beverly Hills Regenerative Medicine, Great Labels, The Fairmont Hotel, and the Fireside Health Center. Police believe he may be responsible for more incidents.

On May 1, the suspect entered the Dagwoods employee locker room and took an Apple Watch, wallet, digital camera, and wedding ring that belonged to Chef Jaime Hernandez.

“That wedding ring has some serious sentimental value so he was distraught. A place that you think would be a safe place turns out to be not so safe,” said General Manager Mark Peters, adding that this is one of four incidents of break-in or burglary that have occurred at Dagwoods in recent weeks.

The serial burglar suspect is not thought to be responsible for the other three incidents, including one when the employee locker room was again targeted and an expensive jacket was stolen. 

Despite similarities in the crimes, police officials said they don’t believe there is evidence of an organized crime ring. They are seeking to bring the suspect into custody and urge the public to be on the lookout.

Heidi Dedrick is the Street Liason for the Montana Avenue Merchant Association and has been working with the police department to help protect business owners from this individual since November. She said the suspect will often hide a skateboard near the businesses he targets to provide a quick getaway. 

“I pretty much see him every week after work,” said Dedrick. “Oftentimes I’ll come look around and Officer Aaron Alpert and his team will go to the back alleys and parking areas of all the stores just to see if we can catch him in the act.”

Officers have received several reports of trespassing after business hours, which they believe may be connected to the suspect. At Dermalogica Spa on Montana Ave, employees have called the police on three occasions when they’ve spotted a man matching the suspects’ description attempting to force entry. 

One Dermalogica employee said things got especially bad during the winter when few people were on the street and the sun set early. She would be the only employee in the store at closing time and remembers walking with a set of keys fearfully clutched between her knuckles.

In response to the incidents, police have increased their patrol presence in the alleys adjacent to Montana Ave and Wilshire Blvd. Officers are reaching out to business owners reminding them to lock their rear doors, provide a safe location for employee possessions and report suspicious activity to the police. 

The Montana Merchant Association is disseminating similar information to protect their businesses, which are already grappling with an uncertain future of economic recovery. 

“What is crazy is say you’re doing well and finally things are looking up and now you go back to get your telephone and it’s gone; he’s come to your back door and your deposit or your laptop is taken,” said Dedrick.

The police department is seeking the public’s help to locate the suspect and bring him into custody.

“We encourage our residents and business owners to report even small issues or concerns immediately to our dispatch center,” said Sergeant Erika Aklufi. “The person you see looking into the rear doors of a closed business may be the same person who broke into another location last month.”

Clara@smdp.com